HOUSTON – Former President George H.W. Bush was admitted Wednesday to the intensive care unit of a Houston hospital with pneumonia, and his wife, Barbara, was hospitalized as a precaution after suffering fatigue and coughing, a spokesman said.
The 92-year-old former president, who had been hospitalized since Saturday, underwent a procedure “to protect and clear his airway that required sedation,” family spokesman Jim McGrath said in a statement.
Bush was stable and resting comfortably at Houston Methodist Hospital, where he was to stay for observation, the statement said.
The 41st president was placed in the ICU to address “an acute respiratory problem stemming from pneumonia,” McGrath said. He later told The Associated Press that doctors were happy with how the procedure went. Bush was first admitted to the hospital for shortness of breath.
“I don’t think there’s a whole lot of money to be gained betting against George Bush,” McGrath said. “We’re just kind of in a wait-and-see mode.”
McGrath said Barbara Bush, who is 91, had not been feeling well for a couple of weeks, “and it finally just got to the point this morning where she said she wanted to take it out of committee and have the experts check it out.” He described the move as precautionary.
Physicians initially believed the former president would be released later this week following several days of treatment, but his stay has been extended, McGrath said. There is no timetable for his release.
Doctors want to see how the former first lady responds to treatment before allowing her to return home, he said.
The Bushes, who were married Jan. 6, 1945, have had the longest marriage of any presidential couple in American history. At the time of their wedding, he was a young naval aviator. She had been a student at Smith College.
After World War II, the pair moved to the Texas oil patch to seek their fortune and raise a family. It was there that George Bush began his political career, representing Houston for two terms in Congress in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Bush, who served as president from 1989 to 1993, has a form of Parkinson’s disease and uses a motorized scooter or a wheelchair for mobility. He was hospitalized in 2015 in Maine after falling at his summer home and breaking a bone in his neck. He was also hospitalized in Houston the previous December for about a week for shortness of breath. He spent Christmas 2012 in intensive care for a bronchitis-related cough and other issues.
Despite his loss of mobility, Bush celebrated his 90th birthday by making a tandem parachute jump in Kennebunkport, Maine. Last summer, Bush led a group of 40 wounded warriors on a fishing trip at the helm of his speedboat, three days after his 92nd birthday celebration.
Bush’s office announced earlier this month that the couple would not attend Donald Trump’s inauguration because of the former president’s age and health.
“My doctor says if I sit outside in January, it likely will put me six feet under. Same for Barbara. So I guess we’re stuck in Texas,” Bush wrote in a letter to Trump.
His son George W. Bush, the 43rd president, still expects to attend the inauguration and does not plan to travel to Houston, spokesman Freddy Ford said.
George Herbert Walker Bush, born June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts, also served as a congressman, CIA director and Ronald Reagan’s vice president.
George W. Bush was elected president in 2000 and served two terms. Another son, Jeb, served as Florida governor and made an unsuccessful bid for the GOP nomination in 2016. Only one other U.S. president, John Adams, had a son who also became president.
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